Interview: Talking tinnitus and earplugs with Jody Barr
Since stepping foot in the scene in 2015, Jody Barr's powerful warehouse sound has helped him accelerate to notable heights in only a couple of years. With standout releases on Krankbrother and airplay from the likes of George Fitzgerald and B. Traits, he's firmly cemented his name on the house scene.
Jody Barr is now booked all over the globe, and having played in fabric's room 1, Space Ibiza, Studio 338 and Ministry Of Sound, it's safe to say he's now an experienced DJ. With this experience, however, comes the regular danger of exposure to the loud environments of world-renowned clubs.
With hearing issues in the past and having contracted tinnitus two years ago, Jody now wears earplugs religiously to prevent any further issues. Here, we talk about his experiences with the condition and response from the electronic music scene.
Hi Jody, how are you?
Hi guys, I'm really good. Thank you for having me, I’m happy to be involved in this :)
How long have you had tinnitus?
I've had tinnitus for around two years now. I wouldn’t class it as the most extreme end of the scale where it affects my life severely, but its most certainly tedious in quieter environments.
My initial bout with hearing problems started long before I developed Tinnitus, when I perforated my left ear in secondary school, so there's always been a weakness there. The realisation of something never being the same again overwhelmed me with anxiety, fear and self judgement.
What problems have you encountered as a result of the condition?
My ears fatigue a lot quicker, I find the harshness of high frequencies more piercing. Studio flow can also be quite intermittent. I can’t just go for hours on end of relentless sound at high volumes. When it comes to club venues, it's not just about how loud the volume is, it's also about the duration spent in those places, which I try to keep to a minimum.
I’m aware you wear custom moulded earplugs, how have you found wearing these when DJing?
When I got my first pair, I wasn’t comfortable wearing them and ended up always being anxious my mixing would sound awful so I never wore them (I wish I did), but it's become easier over time for sure...
Maybe it was a case of clubs having bad monitoring that forced me to play without them. It takes time to adjust to each environment you play in and also what headphones you use as I know specific brands focus on certain frequency ranges. I now wear them anywhere beyond my comfort level. It's become a complete obsession but I wouldn’t change it.
There are many documented methods about how to cope with the condition - what’s the best way for you?
I've researched obsessively about this subject. Many factors can contribute to tinnitus including stress, ill health, sinus congestion and more. Cranial osteopathy can have positive results although its still not a permanent cure. If you spend time doing and paying attention to what you love, it can reduce stress and tension.
There's a fine line between protection when needed and protection for the sake of it. You can over sensitise which can be worse in the long run. Relaxation is important but the biggest one for me is cutting out drinks with high sugar levels when in loud environments.
With a close affiliation to Krankbrother and owning your own label, Portable Minds, do you ever get to talk about hearing problems and protection with the artists you work with?
I always get asked what earplugs I use (ACS pro series, for those that want to know). It's great to see people interested in career longevity by asking for advice online. I’ve seen a few debates on my social platforms, which creates more awareness and that's key. Get the conversation going as it ultimately effects us all.
If there’s one piece of advice you could give to artists and/or fans with regard to protecting their ears, what would it be?
Wear earplugs... simple!
What’s next for you & your label?
The New Year is almost upon us, so I’m making a few changes by exploring more with my sound. There are a few things in the pipeline which I can’t mention too much about just yet but I'm looking forward to a new chapter.
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